Back in 1995, while spending an extended vacation in Thailand and needing a cheap place to stay for a few days in Bangkok—while I took care of a new visa for Korea—I ended up spending a few nights at the Reno Hotel located not far from MBK.
I had stumbled across information on the Reno Hotel while searching for budget hotels in my Lonely Planet guidebook. The hotel, according to the brief blurb in the guidebook had been a popular hotel back during the Vietnam War for service members coming to Bangkok for R&R. I am not sure why I decided to stay there (when there were other cheaper hotels to be found in Bangkok). At the time though, I was reading Stanley Karnow’s book on the Vietnam War, so maybe that figured in a little on why we ended up staying there.
Although the hotel was somewhat of a ghost of its former glory, much of it’s original had been preserved like the massive lobby and staircase leading up to the rooms on the second floor. It must have been quite the hotel back in its heyday judging from the size of the rooms with their high ceilings and view of the pool—which looked like it hadn’t been used in years. I wasn’t sure if the television bolted to the wall had been done during the war or after, but it added a little more character to the room. It was definitely worth the 500 or 600 Baht we had to pay and I kind of felt like I had experienced a bit of history.
You know, if the walls could speak—that sort of thing.
Jump forward 12 years and now it was a stay in the Federal Hotel, another hotel from the Vietnam War era. Like the Reno, it was also for soldiers on R&R. Built in 1962, the hotel has managed to survive the modernization of Bangkok without losing much of its original charm.